Title page for ETD etd-08072009-112713

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Houser, AnnMarie
URN etd-08072009-112713
Document Title Spoor density, movement and rehabilitation of cheetahs in Botswana
Degree MSc
Department Centre for Wildlife Management
Advisor Name Title
Dr M J Somers Supervisor
  • cheetahs
  • illegal trade
  • Botswana
Date 2009-04-23
Availability unrestricted

The “vulnerable” listing by IUCN of cheetah Acinonyx jubatus in Africa has caused urgency in the protection of their habitat and development of predator management strategies. By understanding the movement and home range of cheetah in Botswana, translocation of problem cheetah or reintroduction of non-problem animals can be managed appropriately. More importantly this information will help to protect what is already there. Due to the increasing numbers of cheetahs being taken by illegal trade and poaching, there have become incidents of orphaned cubs where the only option for their survival is rehabilitation for release into the wild, or euthanasia.

The first part of the study focuses on baseline information of movement patterns of cheetah in Botswana. Eleven cheetahs were collared and monitored from 2003-2007, including males and females with and without cubs from the Ghanzi and Southern districts. The understanding of cheetah movement is critical in determining methods of protection and survival of the species in protected areas living with competing predators such as lion Panthera leo, brown hyaena Hyaena brunnea and leopard Panthera pardus, as well as on farmlands where human conflict and habitat loss are the main causes of cheetah death. In the Southern district the cheetah were able to move freely in and out of the Jwana Game Reserve surrounded by communal livestock farms with low to medium conflict, utilizing various livestock protection methods, whilst Ghanzi consisted of livestock and game farms where conflict was high and protection methods were limited or nonexistent. Home ranges in males ranged from 492 km2(in single males) to 849 km2(in one coalition) in Ghanzi, while females ranged from 241 km2 to 306 km2 in Jwaneng.

In addition, in order to determine the correlation between spoor density and true density, a 15 month spoor study was conducted in Jwaneng at the Jwana Game Reserve on a population of free ranging wild cheetah. A correction factor was tested and adjusted for accuracy, resulting in two formulas to be used in the wet and dry seasons. Spoor surveys are by no means a determinant factor, as they need to be repeated over time to observe population fluctuations due to outside factors, and are time consuming and can be expensive, but they are a management tool that can be utilized for estimations of cheetah densities on private farms or protected areas.

The third part to the study was the rehabilitation of three orphaned cubs, from different families, that were put together from eight to twelve weeks old. The goal of this project was to raise and release fully functional, self sufficient, breeding animals into the wild population on a game farm. These cubs were raised in isolation until 1.5 years of age, then transferred to a 100 ha enclosure where they were given the opportunity to learn to hunt. Daily observations of their behavioural development and hunting abilities were recorded for 48 days and are presented in a descriptive way. At two years old they were released onto a 9000 ha game farm where their potential to survive on farmland was monitored. Botswana does not have the facilities or desire to keep predators captive, and if orphaned cubs could be utilized by placing them back into wild populations where they could add to the gene pool, alternatives would be available for captive bred animals or cheetahs facing life long captivity.

Copyright © 2008, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Houser, A-M 2008, Spoor density, movement and rehabilitation of cheetahs in Botswana, MSc dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-08072009-112713/ >

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